1. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Favourite descriptions of settings in classic works

    Discussion in 'Book Discussion' started by Tenderiser, Nov 11, 2015.

    What are your favourite descriptions of places or settings from classic works? Something that makes you feel a place rather than just see it?

    One of my characters is going to quote it to another, to show him that books can transport you to another world. At the moment she uses the description of Manderley in Rebecca (Daphne du Maurier) but it's not the right tone - Manderley here is sinister, and I want something more inviting.

    Last night, I dreamt I went to Manderley again. It seemed to be as I stood by the iron gate leading to the drive, and for a while I could not enter, for the way was barred to me. There was a padlock and a chain upon the gate. I called in my dream to the lodge-keeper, and had no answer, and peering closer through the rusted spokes of the gate I saw that the lodge was uninhabited. No smoke came from the chimney, and the little lattice windows gaped forlorn. Then, like all dreamers, I was possessed of a sudden with supernatural powers and passed like a spirit through the barrier before me.

    Nearly all the classics I love I have on audiobook rather than paper/Kindle, so I'm really struggling to find them. Googling hasn't been much help either.
     
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  2. DefinitelyMaybe
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    DefinitelyMaybe Contributing Member Contributor

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    This is a cheat because I haven't read the book. But, I think that White Fang starts with a great description of the icy environment the book is set in. If I read more, that opinion may change, but I think the small bits I've read are very good.

    I could quote more. But I think this is fantastic. Clever. I like the way it builds as the chapters introduce new ground one by one.

    Older books: After London by Richard Jeffries, the first bit of the book describing London turning into a poisonous swamp. That's probably more due to an appreciation of the world, rather than the writing itself being fantastic.

    Even though it's a non-fiction book by someone who isn't primarily an author, I liked Edmund Hillary's description of the route from Katmandu to the summit of Mount Everest. I may be biased by knowing that he actually did it, but the swirling whirlpools, the leeches, the reactions of the locals. It's not skilful literary writing, so maybe I shouldn't post this, but I felt like I was there. Which is sort-of what you asked. BTW: I've read quite a bit of mountaineering non-fiction, and I don't feel that the non-writers (e.g. Hillary) do a worse job at creating a literary book than those with a literary background, such as Andrew Greig's "Summit Fever". They are different, but in terms of feeling engaged and "there", I think they're equal. Hmmm.... wandering away from "Classics" here.

    I tend to remember books for the overall story, than for the prose. Though, I really appreciate reading skilful prose while I'm reading it.
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2015

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